“I Can” by Nas
I remember waking up on Sunday mornings hearing my mom blasting “I Can” by Nas. Hearing the words - “I know I can be what I wanna be, if I work hard at it I'll be where I wanna be” - sung by young girls who looked like me had a big impact on my life. Words are powerful. Hearing over and over again that I can be what I wanna be, made me truly believe it. This song is part of why I know that there are no limits to what I can achieve and if I work hard, I’ll be where I wanna be.
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston
There’s no such thing as music that isn’t emotional for me. However, the type of music that invokes the most emotion for me is the music I can listen to with the multiple generations in my family. Music that my grandma, mom, aunts, sister and cousins like, is music that grounds me. Nothing can stop the wave of happiness, warmth, and nostalgia that hits me when Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Toni Braxton, the Supremes, Chaka Khan, or Natalie King Cole come on. Their voices are a comfort to me, similar to the feeling of when I hug my mom, when my grandma bakes love into her pies, and when I joke around with my cousins. Strong Black women basking in the art of other strong Black women is an indescribable feeling of joy, empowerment, and resistance.
“Street by Street” by Laufey
The song I have on repeat is “Street by Street” by Laufey. Little did I know when Laufey blessed my Tik Tok #fyp that I would absolutely fall in love with her mellow, warm sound. All of her songs fill my soul with peace but this song in particular gives me chills everytime. Although Laufey sings about reclaiming your life post breakup, for me, I listen and think about how I have rebuilt myself every time I’ve fallen . “Step by step, brick by brick” I am on a gradual journey of “taking back my life”. This song reminds me that it is ok to move slowly and to celebrate the little successes because eventually “I’ll reclaim what is mine”. Reclaim the peace, the happiness, and the kindness I have denied myself for too long.
Ctrl by SZA
Ctrl by SZA
Ctrl by SZA is one of my favorite albums. In fact, I still listen to it as if it came out yesterday. When “Ctrl” dropped, it was the last day of my junior year of high school. I had the album on repeat the entire summer and senior year. “Ctrl” was such a bonding force for the girls in my school who loved the album just as much as I did. During our free periods, we would rank and re-rank the songs and go around explaining why. My favorite song on the album is “Normal Girl” because it’s the most relatable one. I’ve always struggled to fit in and be a “normal girl”. My favorite line is, “this time next year I’ll be living so good,” and knowing that I’m putting it on my graduation cap is what’s getting me through finishing college.
- Kesi Rose Sobteju